CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Department of Transportation and the Chicago Transit Authority announced the start date for construction of a new Loop bus transit project Monday.
Construction of the Loop Link project will begin March 16 and will create bus-only lanes on two miles of streets on Washington, Madison, Canal and Clinton on a circuit from Union Station to Millennium Park. The lanes will be marked with red colored pavement and enhanced signage.
Buses will also get early green lights at key intersections and the routes will feature island bus boarding platform with larger canopies and bus tracker screens.
On Washington Avenue, two lanes of traffic will remain open to cars and trucks and a bike lane will be protected by the bus lane. Madison will have the same configuration, except the bike lane will be relocated to Randolph.
Canal and Clinton will also have two lanes of traffic for cars and trucks and a bus-only lane. Clinton will get a two-way protected bike lane and the bike lane on Canal will be removed.
“The Loop Link will provide faster, more reliable bus service to one of the most congested corridors throughout our entire bus network, serving thousands of customers each day,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “Improving the customer experience will both benefit existing bus riders and help attract new ones.”
Construction on will start on Madison at State Street and Clinton at Randolph and move one block at a time over several weeks, resulting in traffic being reduced to two lanes in the construction zone. Work on Washington and Canal will start later in the spring.
The city says the Loop Link will improve service on six lines, the J14, 20, 56, 60 124 and 157.
Nicole Wilson often takes the bus downtown and told CBS 2’s Jim Williams that it can be a frustrating commute.
But even she wonders what the loss of a lane for cars will do to her commute when she drives in the Loop.
“To have those lanes designated just for the buses will make it incredibly hard to navigate the city,” she said.
The new configuration is expected to be in place by the end of 2015. For more information, visit www.chicagolooplink.com.
CDOT also announced the start of construction on two other projects: a new Union Station Transit Center and a new L station at Washington-Wabash.
The Union Station Transit Center will create a new off-street bus boarding station south of Jackson between Canal and Clinton. The center will feature sheltered staging areas and an elevator to an underground Amtrak pedway. It is expected to be open in the spring 2016.
Construction of the new Washington-Wabash station will start March 9, replacing the stations on Madison and Randolph. The station on Madison and Wabash will close March 16. Wabash between Washington and Madison will be closed during the construction, which is expected to last for roughly 18 months, according to CDOT and the CTA.